What Is Hormone Treatment?
Hormones are substances that control body functions. Specific hormones regulate your metabolism, blood sugar (glucose), or even your sleep and wake cycles. Some types of cancer rely on hormones to continue to grow and spread.
Hormone treatment (therapy) stops cancer cells from growing. It works in one of two ways:
- It interrupts how specific hormones work.
- It stops your body from producing certain hormones.
Types of Hormone Therapy
Hormone therapy can target specific types of cancer, including the following:
You may have hormone therapy to
- Destroy cancer cells that have spread (metastasized) to other parts of your body.
- Prevent cancer from coming back after treatment (adjuvant therapy).
- Shrink a tumor before surgery or radiation therapy (neoadjuvant therapy).
What to Expect During Hormone Treatment
Hormone treatment may include the following:
- Oral medications: You may take hormone therapy as a pill, as a liquid, or as a capsule. You may receive specific instructions about when and how to take these drugs at home. Every location has a specialty pharmacy, making it easier to pick up medications.
- Injections: Your provider may give you an injection in your arm, hip, or leg (intramuscular injections) or in your belly (subcutaneous injections) at one of our cancer centers. Or you may receive instructions on how to give yourself injections at home.
- Surgery: Depending on the cancer type, you may have surgery to remove the organs that produce certain hormones. For example, some men with prostate cancer may have an orchiectomy (surgery to remove the testicles). Some women with breast cancer may be candidates for oophorectomy (surgery to remove the ovaries). These surgeries are a permanent treatment option, and your provider will discuss all risks and benefits with you before any procedure.
Side Effects of Hormone Therapy
Hormone treatment can cause short-term side effects. While taking hormone therapy, you may experience
- Hot flashes
- Muscle or joint pain
- Reduced libido (sex drive)
- Weight changes
Our team offers many support services to help you manage cancer treatment side effects, including integrative medicine services like massage therapy, aromatherapy, nutrition, or mental health counseling. We designed these offerings to support your overall well-being—mind, body, and spirit.